The Ultimate Guide to Baking with Oats


Why bake with oats?

The humble oat is actually something of a superfood – incredibly good for you, endlessly versatile and, as well as being a traditional breakfast staple, it’s also a fantastic ingredient in all kinds of baking.  Oats add fibre, vitamins and minerals plus a welcome chewy or crumbly texture which can add a whole new dimension to home baked favourites.  And that’s not all.  Oats have a low glycaemic load which means anything made with them may help make you feel fuller for longer, which is so much better than the fast sugar spike experienced after eating cakes, cookies or crumbles made with more processed, less wholesome ingredients. Read on to discover some of our tried and trusted recipes; find out why oats can be your best friend if you're following a gluten free diet; and even how to make your own oat flour – giving you plenty more ways to bake with oats.

What goes with oats?

There are endless possibilities! With their creamy, ‘toasted’, mellow flavour, oats are the perfect partner to fruit – fresh or dried – and lots of your store cupboard essentials like honey, maple syrup and especially spices: think cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.  Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans are a great pairing too, and seeds give texture and crunch, while chocolate, coconut and even coffee add a touch of richness to an oat-based bake.

So much more than porridge

We could write a whole book about baking with oats (and we might just do that) because there are countless different ways you can use this unassuming, wholesome raw ingredient.  Chunky cookies, sticky flapjacks, fruity muffins and crumbles, protein balls, trail bars, blondies and baked oats dishes – both sweet and savoury, these are just a few ideas to get you thinking.  Once you start baking with oats you’ll start to find you can often incorporate the wholegrain goodness of oats into some of your own regular family recipes. Just use our Ultimate Guide to get you off on the right track.


Which Nairn's products are best for baking?

First up, our bags of traditional Scottish Porridge Oats are your first port of call for any recipe listing either porridge oats or rolled oats.  Gluten free and containing only pure Scottish oats, with no added sugar or salt, they will see you right however you want to use them.

You might think muesli is just for breakfast, but Nairn’s Fruit & Seed Muesli brings a crunchy twist to your bakes: sprinkle over muffins before they go in the oven for a wholesome topping or include in a tea bread to give it a fruitier edge.

Use our new Oats Your Way in either Apple & Cinnamon or Blueberry in your baking – they’re ideal for a quick fruity flavour boost.  Include them in a tray of homemade muffins for a nutritious on-the-go snack that will outshine any shop-bought version.  And they make the best flapjacks we’ve tasted in a while….


New breakfast ideas

Are you a fan of porridge but don’t always have the time to prepare it?  Or maybe you love your everyday bowlful but fancy ringing the changes? If so, baked oats might just be the answer.  You might not be familiar with this make-ahead idea, but it’s one of the hottest trends in oats just now.  It’s basically a combination of oats mixed with (usually) an egg and milk (dairy, nut or oat are all fine) and any number of flavours and additions to create a breakfast bake that’s a kind of muffin/porridge bar/flapjack hybrid.  Delicious warm from the oven or ready-sliced in the fridge (and it also freezes well) a dish of baked oats might just be your new morning life saver – grab a portion to eat on the hoof, pop in a container for a slow-release snack during the day or enjoy slowly with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Adding fruit to your baked porridge oats takes them to another level and pretty much any kind will do.  We like dried apricots, fresh berries, mashed banana or apple purée (fresh is amazing, but from a jar is totally fine too). To keep things refined sugar free you might want to err on the side of maple syrup, honey or agave to sweeten your oat bake and if the recipe requires oil, we find coconut oil, with its healthy fatty acids, is an excellent choice.  Additional ingredients we love include chocolate chips (because who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate for breakfast?!), shredded coconut, chopped nuts and peanut butter - nuts provide an extra shot of protein, making your baked oats even more hardworking in terms of nutrition and keeping you going for longer.

Topping ideas

Honestly, you can throw whatever you have to hand in your baked oats and finding your own combinations is all part of the fun.

One of the other fantastic advantages of baked oats is you can simply use whatever you have in terms of equipment.  Baked oats can be made in a loaf tin, shallow oven dish or a muffin or cupcake tray for individual portions and any recipe can usually be adapted for whatever you’re using, though obviously cooking times will be longer for a bigger container. And finally, your baked oats will last for anywhere from three to five days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer, so it really is worth making a big batch.  They’re the ultimate time saver….

Toasting oats in the oven brings out their subtle, slightly malty flavour and no more so than when you use them for granola.  Making your own is an economical and delicious way to create a breakfast stalwart that will tempt the whole family.  Super-simple to prepare, it’s just a matter of mixing up then spreading out your granola ingredients on a tray and popping it into the oven. You can play around with different combinations but we adore this luxurious oat granola made with that classic combo of maple syrup and pecans.

Apple & Cinnamon Baked Oats

Apple & Cinnamon Baked Oats

Ingredients for

  • 300g Nairn’s Apple & Cinnamon Oats Your Way
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 500ml milk or milk alternative (almond milk works well)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g raisins

Black Forest Baked Oats

Black Forest baked oats with Nairn's Scottish Porridge Oats

Ingredients for

  • 300g Nairn’s Scottish Porridge Oats
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 500ml milk or milk alternative (coconut works well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 -15 frozen cherries (you can chop them up or leave them whole)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 can coconut milk , chilled
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Maple and Pecan Granola

maple pecan granola

Ingredients for 4 serving(s)

  • 200g Nairn’s gluten free porridge oats
  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 30g flaked almonds
  • 4tbsp coconut oil
  • 4tbps maple syrup
  • A couple of pinches of ground cinnamon

Cookies and traybake recipes

Oats and cookies are a match made in heaven, with oats adding all-important fibre along with a host of nutrients and also some extra texture for a more satisfying bite.  Whether you prefer a soft and chewy cookie or a melt-in-the-mouth shortbread-style biscuit you’re sure to find a new favourite among our carefully tested recipes.

Traybakes are another no-brainer for adding oats.  Flapjacks have always been traditionally made with oats, butter and golden syrup but using our Oats Your Way in either Apple & Cinnamon or Blueberry flavours gives them an instant lift.  Incorporate oats or muesli into brownies or include in protein nut bars or balls for a delicious post-workout snack.

Great for cooking with kids, cookies and traybakes are all easy to make and quick to bake, so grab your apron and whip up a tray of these.  Worth it just for the kitchen aroma and your kitchen god/goddess reputation . . .

Sally's Oat Biscuits

Sally's Oat Biscuits

Ingredients for 10 serving(s)

  • 175g Nairn’s Gluten Free Porridge Oats
  • 125g Margarine/butter
  • 50g Flour
  • 50g Sugar
  • 110g Icing Sugar
  • 55g Margarine/butter
  • A few drops of vanilla essence

Holly's Home School Flapjacks


Ingredients for 9 serving(s)

  • 115g butter (or non-dairy alternative)
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 85g soft brown sugar (or caster sugar)
  • 225g Nairn’s Gluten Free Oat Muesli

Pecan and Butterscotch Oat Flour Cookies

Pecan butterscotch cookies

Ingredients for

  • 175g Nairn's gluten free Scottish porridge oats
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 100g margarine
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 1tbsp golden syrup
  • Pecan nuts to decorate

Treats and desserts

Oats may be an amazing source of wholegrain fibre, vitamins and minerals but that doesn’t mean they can’t play their part in more indulgent recipes too. In fact, they can offset the richness of treats and desserts brilliantly, making a luxurious cupcake or pudding feel a bit less naughty. Adding oats is also great way of including a healthy ingredient by stealth, so children who might not like porridge will wolf down an apple crumble with a secret oat topping!

Gluten Free Oat, Cranberry and Chocolate Brownies


Ingredients for 16 serving(s)

  • 115g / 4oz ready to eat prunes
  • 3tbsp natural sweetener
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g / 5oz plain chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
  • 60g / 2oz Nairn’s Gluten Free oats
  • 30g / 1oz self raising gluten free flour or rice flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs, free range, separated
  • 80g / 3oz dried cranberries

Banana oat cupcakes with a salted caramel crunch

banana oat cupcakes

Ingredients for 12 serving(s)

  • For the cupcakes;
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g coconut sugar or xylitol
  • 100g coconut butter or vegan spread
  • 1 large banana
  • 100g Gluten-Free plain flour
  • 50g gluten free Nairn’s porridge oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the oat crunch;
  • 30g coconut sugar or xylitol
  • 50g Nairn’s gluten free porridge oats, ground up roughly in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2tbsp melted coconut oil or vegan spread, melted
  • For the salted caramel;
  • 75g vegan spread
  • 100g coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp thick coconut milk from the top part of a can of coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp thick coconut milk from the top part of a can of coconut milk

Apple And Pear Crumble

apple and pear crumble

Ingredients for 4 serving(s)

  • 4 pears, chopped into cubes
  • 4 apples, chopped into cubes
  • 8 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 box of Nairn's Gluten Free Oatcakes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Mixed berry oat crumble

berry crumble

Ingredients for 4 serving(s)

  • 1 ½ lbs/675g berries - these can be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries (brambles) or a combinat
  • 4 oz./120g golden granulated sugar
  • For the crumble:
  • 2 oz./55g butter
  • 2 oz./50g Demerara sugar
  • 2 oz./50g rolled, Nairn's Porridge Oats or crushed Nairn's Oatcakes
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Savoury baking and bread

Why not introduce oats to the lunch or dinner table? While they may not seem to be an obvious savoury ingredient, the subtle taste and texture of oats can bring out the best in hefty flavours like onions, garlic, herbs and spices while adding all their usual fibre and goodness to a whole array of savoury baking. And as a good source of protein, savoury oats are also becoming a go-to element of many vegan diets.

Oats can be used in savoury crumbles, stuffings and in baked oats recipes, not to mention savoury muffins and as a great, gluten free breadcrumb substitute.  Try our recipes for grown up fish fingers and a lush Mediterranean style-bake, shown below.

Homemade bread is always divine, but with oats stirred into the dough or sprinkled on top with some seeds, you’ll be adding the extra goodness of wholegrains into your loaf. We think oats are an absolute must-have for proper granary bread, so it’s definitely worth experimenting with oats if you’re a keen baker.  The same goes for rolls, oatcakes and crackers, and if you’re someone who can’t tolerate wheat flour, read on for some helpful tips on making your own oat flour.

Coconut and oat crusted salmon nuggets

Coconut oat crusted salmon nuggets

Ingredients for 4 serving(s)

  • 450g /1lb salmon fillets, skinless and boneless
  • 80g / 3oz Nairn’s gluten free oat cakes
  • 60g /2oz desiccated coconut
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 40g / 1 ½ oz rice flour
  • 4 tbsp organic mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sweet Thai chilli sauce

Aubergine, tomato and parmesan oaty bake

aubergine, tomato and parmesan oaty bake

Ingredients for 2 serving(s)

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • Pinch of dried mixed herbs
  • 2 aubergines cut into thin slices
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 5 Nairn’s Rough Oatcakes, crushed

How to make oat flour

Oat flour can transform your baking potential, allowing those who need or prefer to avoid gluten to bake without fear or trepidation.   That said, there are a few things worth knowing before you begin, as oat flour needs different handling compared with conventional wheat flours. Let’s begin with your own home milling!


Making your own oat flour

Creating your own oat flour is a cost-effective way to kick off gluten free baking.  We recommend you use Nairn’s Scottish Porridge Oats - they are certified gluten free and are not too coarse.   Simply pour the oats into a food processor and pulse until you reach the consistency you want.  Do bear in mind that oats milled in a food processor at home are likely to be less fine than most commercial oat flours and therefore will probably work best in biscuit and crumble style recipes.

How to use oat flour

  • Oats are naturally gluten free which means that the chemistry of oat flour is different to flours which contain gluten (such as wheat flour). That’s why we don’t recommend using oat flour as a like-for-like substitute for wheat flour in conventional recipes. It’s always best to find recipes that specifically require oat flour.


  • Recipes made with oat flour may not rise as much as those made with other kinds of flour, but they usually have a lovely soft texture and deliciously subtle slightly toasted flavour. Just add baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to increase the rise.


  • Oat flour tends to create a crumblier texture so be sure to bind the dough or batter well, particularly with eggs or an egg equivalent.


  • Blending oat flour with other gluten free flours such as rice flour or tapioca flour can add a little more lightness and rise, and results in a slightly different texture to your bake.


  • Be sure to always weigh your oat flour rather than using volume measures like cups or tablespoons. This is because oat flour is lighter than many other flours, so you’ll most likely need more of it.


  • Oats absorb liquids quickly and don’t react in the same way as other flours when combined with them. For that reason, we recommend you add any oil or liquid just a little at a time, so that you can judge the consistency as you go. Just gradually top up the liquid if the dough or mix looks a little dry.


  • Homemade oat flour will keep in an airtight container for up to two months.


If you love baking, we hope this has inspired you to give oats a try! There’s so much more to them than you might ever have considered - a true store cupboard staple…

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